Friday, April 25, 2008

The decision

The deposit is made and it feels great.

To sum it up: When I was at Haas I met many people. At Tuck I already began to make friends.
There are a multitude of other reasons why I chose Tuck, mainly of the rational kind, but this is the one that best describes the non-rational part.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Admit Weekends Wrap-Up (3): Tuck

April 17th.

Bus ride to Hanover. BTW: Did you know that New Hampshire state-motto is "Live free or die"? When I saw the first number plate on a car next to me, I thought that must be something that person had specifically made for himself. 10 number plates later there was no mistaking it.

Arrival at the Hanover Inn at Dartmouth College. We are picked up by two friendly first-year students that take us the 3 blocks to the Tuck compound. :) When signing up for Tuck ASW people were asked whether they wanted to stay with students on- or off-campus and I chose to find out how life on-campus was. I met my host who resides in Whittemore which is the newer one of the dorms at Tuck. It's actually quite nice, albeit the rooms arent that big.

Tuck ASW started off with a reception at Whittemore (after we got our name tags and some goodies plus information folder). After a few drinks and meeting the first few people we were welcomed by the student chair. The welcome speech wasnt too enticing and came off somewhat arrogant. I was reminded of what some people on gmatclub said about Tuck: The only thing you can do there is play hockey. We then went off to have drinks at the three main bars (I honestly dont know if there are any more) in Hanover and that's how the night ended. I almost got 8h of sleep after getting about three the night before.

April 18th

The next day began with breakfast and was followed by an introduction by Dean Paul Danos and people from the MBA program office. Sitting in the auditorium, I realized that there was no dean speaking to us at Haas. That might have been due to the fact that Haas is looking for a new dean right now. Nevertheless, Haas should have made the effort to have someone higher up in the food chain speak to the attendants. Dean Danos gave an outline of where Tuck is headed in the future.

The program continued with a presentation about the curriculum. I either missed something similar at Haas or they didnt have anything like that. One aspect I particularly welcomed was the fact that Tuck will put more emphasis on globalization issues and (what made me even more happy) that technology will play a bigger role in the curriculum. That's an area where I think Tuck is missing something, so it was good to hear that it has been identified and an effort is being made.

After a short break we were all split up into smaller groups to sit in on a mock-class. My professor was holding a relatively interactive lecture about game theory that was quite fascinating. Tuck believes in different teaching methods and lets the professor for each class decide which way to go. So you will see everything at Tuck from case-method, lecture, project work, experiential etc. This became apparent in this mock class. Whereas all other schools I attended for admit weekends (IESE and Haas) where using a case-method as a mock class, my Tuck one was lecture-style.

The mock class was followed by an international food festival (=lunch break). Sprawled out throughout most of the inner campus and halls you could taste everything from South Korean food to Indian curry. The sheer magnitude of that event was surprising! And what a great way to demonstrate the diversity at Tuck. This was a highlight of the day.

If I remember correctly, after being completely stuffed and hanging out in the sun for a while we went on to the career development presentation. That one was helpful to understand that pretty much every interesting big company comes to Tuck (incl. for example Google, Apple, etc) - it's just that not all of them take home Tuckies. I was always wondering if they really make their way up to Hanover, NH, but obviously the reputation of the school attracts them.

The program continued with a student life panel. Again, we were split up in four groups. The student life panel was helpful in finding out if you go crazy throughout winter or not. For me personally, the ASW was mainly about finding out whether I could see myself living at Tuck so the panel helped in exploring that issue.

Next up was an alumni panel. The alums in our group were okay, friendly and doing quite well in their careers but to be honest, the panel didn't advance my decision making. After a short wrap up the official part of the day was over.

We had an hour of free time that I was using to speak to other admits and for half an hour of sleep, before we headed off in small groups to 2nd year students homes off-campus. That way, I got to see Vermont as well. Our hosts had a wonderful, pretty big wooden house where we had a BBQ. I got to talk to one of the advisory board members. A great, very approachable chap who gave us the insight scoop on where Tuck is headed. Impressive acquaintance.

Of course there was a party. South beach dance party in Buchanan (the older dorm). It got late. Again. Awesome cocktails and great company made it even harder to leave early. I think I got to bed at around 330am. Guess who was late to breakfast the next morning?

April 19th

Actually, I think there was no breakfast left to speak of. I grabbed a banana and a coffee on the way and just made it in time to the Advisory Board panel. (having missed the international student breakfast and the kick-off)

Something had happened to me, though. I cannot pinpoint when and where it happened. It might have been due to lack of sleep and the alcohol, but the feeling didnt fade away: When I woke up in the morning, lying on that floor mattress in Whittemore, somehow I knew that this was where I would want to get my MBA. I had been waiting for that feeling for a while. The whole reason for the trip was to finally have that feeling of "I belong here." Everything that happened beyond this point reinforced that sentiment.

The Advisory Panel. Again, all attendants were split up in four groups, so I got see only four of the advisory panel members - but what an accomplished bunch of people. They practically all were more or less C-level, but still funny, down-to-earth people. What I heard from other panels was along the same lines. They always say that Tuck alums are very responsive and that the Tuck network is the strongest of all business schools. I was already beyond doubt on that one. But Tuck claims that their graduates are smart, but not pretentious. This panel proved that.

After a short break we were in for a treat. Bill Achtmeyer, chairman of the Parthenon Group (and Tuck '81 alum) gave a speech on the "Tuck Experience". I think he is also on the advisory board. And yes, that was one big "Selling-Tuck" presentation. But that guy is just awesome. I think at one point I actually had tears in my eyes. From laughing, of course, what did you think? ;)
Achtmeyer spoke about a wide array of things, especially about the school's network, life at Tuck, other schools. You might have guessed that the latter offered various opportunities for funny side blows... such as that Green is a great color and matches pretty much everything whereas Red is horrible and looks awful when worn. (think about which other schools have red in their logo)

Having wiped off the tears of laughter we left the auditorium and headed for the buses that were to take us to Dartmouth Skiway. No, we didnt go skiing. BTW: It was still something like 24 degrees Celsius outside, and I wished I had brought shorts instead of gloves. The "buses" where actually the all-American yellow school buses. It was just great! Imagine 200 future MBAs in their late twenties, early thirties riding on 4 school buses. At the Dartmouth Skiway we had lunch sitting in the sun, followed by a club fair that I barely took advantage of. I did sign up for a couple email lists, though.

Coming back we had a few hours of free time. Two Latin American guys and I used that to check out the Dartmouth campus and especially the legendary Alumni gym (supposedly it was sponsored by a bunch of alums). The gym is located on the top floor of an old house on campus that hosts several basketball courts etc, swimming pools and workout rooms. I have seen my share of gyms and I can tell you: that's the best I have ever seen in my life. And only a part of that impression stems from the undergrad eye candy that was running on the treadmills. The gym is spacious, super-modern, light-flooded and has everything you need. That place will see a lot of me. I hope.

Before dinners at a range of restaurants in Hanover and the surrounding towns (you could pick where you wanted to go) I got an hour of sleep. I went to an Asian place in Hanover which had horrible service but the food was great. It was good to know there is some decent dining in Hanover. After dinner we left for a party at an art center around the corner. Tuck had rented out a hall. Two bars for 300+ guests left something to wish for, but the Tuck band gave quite a performance and all in all it was a good night. I guess I should have called it a day but was instead sucked into attending the after-party at Buchanan. Not a good call. This one was actually too much. I felt like being at an undergrad party after a while (what's it with Americans and their drinking games? ;) ). I was actually talking to a few of the current students then, asking whether it would be like that every weekend. I was reassured that such a piss-up is very unusual and that your Tuck experience depends on what you make of it. For a while I was wondering if I still felt that Tuck was the right place and was still contemplating it when I got back home on Monday morning.

April 20th

Waking up late I found just a handful of admits in the breakfast area. I loaded up on granola bars for the trip, then went running for a while and then it was time to catch the bus.

Does that sound like there was no real final wrap-up? Yep. To me, too. Dont get me wrong: Tuck ASW was organized perfectly, but I felt there was no real final wrap-up and a farewell when it was all done. You know something like: Thanks for being here, we cant wait to see you in the fall.

Nevertheless I had a great bus ride to Boston Logan airport: a great, fellow admit was on the same bus. I left Dartmouth tired but with a smile on my face.

The invitation to the Tuck ASW read "Meet your future." I knew then, that I had indeed.

Admit Weekend Wrap-Up (2): Ross

April 14th.

Frontier Airlines flight from SFO to Detroit Wayne County.

Fun fact: Frontier Airlines filed for Chapter11 protection a week earlier (read: bankrupt). Thank goodness they continued their flights but I can tell you: It doesn't feel that great to fly an airline that is low on funds (although that probably applies to all airlines these days). But I was indeed wondering whether these guys were still doing all the necessary maintenance etc. But everything went well.
I got into Detroit in the evening and got my Budget rental car and switched on my Nokia Navigator that was loaded with a US map. Gotta love a phone with GPS built-in. Ann Arbor was a 30min drive and the Holiday Inn Hotel&Suites a nice place to stay. I actually got a full night of sleep. Surprise. ;)

The next day I was welcomed by one of the Ross' admissions people who was extremely friendly and took care of me throughout my entire stay. Before coming to Ross I asked to be put in touch with other international students interested in consulting, as well as possibly attend a class and speak to career counseling.

As it turned out, classes were indeed over and all the rooms (and hallways!) were packed with students working on their MAP presentations (if you don't know what MAP is, check the Ross website). Here is something that the new building will remedy: the Ross School of Business is lacking sufficient study rooms for group studying etc. People were spread out everywhere: Cafeteria, hallways, classrooms, you name it.

I met with several international students throughout my stay. One second year student who had interned with Booz Allen and a first year who will also go into consulting. It seemed that Ross students were tremendously successful in their efforts to get placements in consulting - and also internationals.

I then got a tour of the campus and took a closer look at the almost finished new building. That one is going to be awesome. There will be a lot of daylight in there. I also walked through other areas of the campus to get a feel for Ann Arbor. I loved everything I saw. Oh: Great weather AGAIN, around 19-20 degrees Celsius. Sunny. In the evening three internationals, me and a friend of mine went for drinks in a place called Charlie's and then moved on to "Scorekeepers". You gotta love that name. That place overdoes it on the TV screens and beamers though. (Something I will never understand about US bars. Screens EVERYWHERE)

I got home quite late and almost didnt make it to my appointment with the dean the next day. Yep, the dean took 20mins of his time to speak to me. I also spoke to Al of the Career department.

All in all I got a great impression of both UMich, Ross and Ann Arbor. It's a nice little college town with everything you need as a student including some decent shopping in a nearby mall. When I left, I had a pretty good feeling and could have seen myself attending the school. Especially since they seemed to be quite successful in my designated future career: consulting.

April 17th.

Flying out to Boston and taking Dartmouth coach up to Hanover, NH.
...coming soon...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Admit Weekend WrapUp (1): Haas

I am back. What a packed 11 days those were. Oh boy. I hope I can still remember it all, because I basically survived on an average of around 5h of sleep per night throughout the entire time.
I'll give it my best shot:

April 9th
Direct flight to San Francisco. One of my friends who is a flight attendant chose the same flight and made sure I got in last and told me to introduce myself to the crew. She said there might be something in store for me. 20mins into the flight a crew member is asking for me and tells there was "a mistake". A minute later I am sitting in a business class seat, sipping wine, and having the biggest grin on my face. I think I was playing around with the controls for about an hour. :)
You can imagine I got into SFO quite relaxed and took the crew bus to downtown San Francisco. After a few drinks and some dinner I went to bed.

April 10th
The BART took me to Berkeley. Glorious weather. Around 25 degrees celsius which I think is around 80 fahrenheit. No cloud in the sky. Just walking up to Haas through the amazingly beautiful Berkeley campus was an awesome experience. You gotta love those little streams and bridges everywhere. I will already say: Berkeley has the most beautiful campus of all schools I got accepted to. I sat in on a strategy class before heading to the reception. The class wasnt that exciting and I noticed a lot of students watching TV or checking email on their laptops. The reception was okay and was held in one of the bigger rooms of the b school. We then headed out in smaller groups to current student houses where we were invited for dinner. This was actually a great chance to get to know people better and learn more about the program and lifestyle. After that we went out to bar on Shattuck in downtown Berkeley. The bar was nice and all, but the music was deafening and it was almost impossible to have a decent conversation. Plus, and many internationals might be able to relate, I need conversations in English to be with as little background noise as possible, because I need to concentrate more. (Although I guess my hearing has been better, too)
So I left around 11pm and headed to see a friend in the SF marina area to have even more drinks until something like 2am.

April 11th
After a breakfast that I was late to we had our mock-class with Prof. Morgan. Quite on the sharp side that chap and a very exciting class. I was actually fooled by my hindsight bias. We had to read a RyanAir case before the class and as I recalled the company to be successful I guess I was reading through the case with a heavy bias. It was interesting how it turned out that the market entry strategy that RA was going for was highly questionable.

Following the class there was a career fair with the various industries represented at tables. I was talking to a few of the consulting guys. I will speak about Haas consulting record more later.

After the career fair we were listening to some of the faculty and why the chose to come to Haas. Most of them emphasized Haas' track record in research and that at Haas you are at a place where people are on the cutting edge of research - whereas at other schools you merely learn what is already known. (I am wondering however: how much of what is being researched makes it to the classroom? and how fast?)

Lunch was held at a hotel near the school and was quite yummy. I spoke to a very senior marketing professor who was interesting but quirky. :)

The student life panel was fun as it was hosted by a guy who does stand-up comedy. I felt inclined to ask a question and the following dialogue between the guy and me cracked everyone up. But it was also good to find out about where you should live in Berkeley as an MBA student (and what you will have to pay for it).

The ensuing scavenger hunt around campus was quite some fun. every station was hosted by one of the clubs and we had to do several crazy things such as do a karaoke performance or a TV commercial.

"Dinner" was had in the courtyard of the Haas business school with BBQ and texmex food everywhere. Plus several performances of bands and cheerleaders and what not. I actually wasnt paying attention as I was talking to a few of the current students and had beers with a friend who will do his Phd at Cal. The event was fun and good to bond more with the other admits.

April 12th
I was late. Really late. By the time I got to Haas the alumni panel had already begun. Those guys were fun to listen to, but to be honest I didnt like some of their reasoning why they came to Haas:
"If you consider b-school a vacation, where would you rather spend it? In a place where there is a lot of snow, or somewhere warm and with a lot of sunshine and with nice people?" Wasnt convincing enough for me. But oh well.

The wrap up was awesome though. Especially compared to that of Tuck. More about that one in the next post though. During the entire 2-3 days some of the current students had taken pictures. They presented the best of those in a nice, animated presentation featuring some great music. That one was quite the heartbreaker, and I am sure that is what tipped many people. It almost tipped me to Haas. :)

Pete Johnson held a nice little wrap up speech and then we went off to the optional tours: Wine tasting, SF tour and hiking. I decided for the later and had an awesome hike somewhere north of San Francisco on the coast. Perfect weather too. I wish I had brought shorts. But who knew?

That was it. Days at Haas. A great event, very well organized. I didnt drink the cool-aid though. Oh and what is it with those "t-shirts" they gave us? their neither short nor long-sleeved but something in between. You look ridiculous in those...

I stayed a few more days in San Francisco trying to get some sleep with no success. I am sure about one thing, though: I will definitely try to get an internship in San Francisco. I just LOVE that city.

...more about Ross and Tuck in the next posts...

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Off I go

The Nokia Navigator mobile phone is loaded with a brand new map of the United States of A and I am ready to fly directly to San Francisco. If I am superlucky I just MIGHT get an upgrade to business class as well.

Anyhow, I will try to take a few pictures and add them to my reports about the admit weekends of Haas and Tuck.

I cant wait to experience the schools. This will be fun.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Admit Weekend(s) Travels

April 9th is approaching fast. I can't wait to hop on the plane to San Francisco and experience Days at Haas. I will continue to Ann Arbor on the 14th and check out Ross. Unfortunately, classes will be almost over, so I hope to be able to get a good impression of the school despite that. Then it will be onwards to the Tuck Admit Weekend and then back home on the 20th. Quite a ride in store for me, I guess.

I really hope that I know where I will want to end up when I sit down on that window seat and have a few hours to think about it all. The Haas' decision will have to be made right the next day.

If someone is at any of the admit weekends, let me know, I will get in touch with you!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Financial crisis & MBA job lookout 2009/10

So, the financial system is in a deep mess. I am not saying I understand it all, but if someone asked me to summarize the gist of the problem I'd say it's this - please correct me if I am completely wrong:

We, or rather US creditors in the first place, gave loans to people (American consumers) for everything from houses to cars to other consumer goods, no matter what their creditworthiness. Consumers happily spent away, America basically paid for the worldwide economic upturn over the last few years. But they paid for it with money they didnt have. Eventually, the first people were unable to pay back their loans, interest rates climbed and even more people had trouble making their payments. That's how foreclosures started. House prices began to sink, thus making it harder for people to finance their other debt and the downward credit spiral began. That's why now people default on their consumer credits as well. And the rest of the world is financially also in trouble because all those debts can be purchased by other parties using a complicated system of derivatives that apparently not even those that should know understood.

To make a long story a little shorter: Things suck at the moment. Jobs, especially in finance, will become scarcer. Which will lead to more competition in other job areas, such as consulting. From what I gathered this has already happened in the hunt for MBA internships in 2008. It's not going to get any better any time soon.

Now: Should us MBAs of 2010 be worried?
I mean people are talking about the next great depression already. I cant tell you if you should be worried. I definitely cannot say I am not. On the other hand, we might just spend a great deal of the recession time at school and then get out of school by the time things start to get better AND we will have an MBA under our belts. But obtaining that dream summer internship in 2009 might be quite brutal.

I also wonder if this should have implications for my school choice? Should I go for the school where I have to pay the least to get out of school with as little debt as possible? Probably the wrong approach. I guess it is better to go where you think you will have the best job chances post-MBA. Because there is not point in having no debt if you cant get the job you want out of business school. (Although all my choices will get me into consulting)

These are interesting times, I am trying to observe and learn as much as I can. We can still worry when there is reason to.